Joel Mantelin (ISP Personal Care) and Monica Olsen (Skin by Monica Olsen) on Antiaging

Additional insight on antiaging (and complementary to "The New Age of Antiaging") from Joel Mantelin, global marketing director, skin care, ISP Personal Care, and Monica Olsen, founder, Skin by Monica Olsen.

What consumer habits have changed over the last eight months (spending, product choices, frequency of spend, etc.), and how have they changed? Has that impacted ingredient creation and innovation? If so, how?

Mantelin: We believe the cosmetic industry is in better shape than other market sectors. Spending and choice may have shifted slightly from mid range products,  in favor of mass market offerings, but the high end of the market does not appear to be too affected. Innovation is driving new launches of high end antiaging creams and lotions.

Olsen: People have changed to less expensive choices, but they are seeking out quality and are more informed. Skin by Monica Olsen has positioned itself nicely into this business model. We entered the market with our prices lower than the competition because we didn’t want to make our products so expensive, but we are also a direct line to the stores, meaning there are no middle-men or distributors to pay, enabling us to keep our prices down. Consumers’ buying decisions have changed in that they are not purchasing as much at one time, rather waiting until they run out to re-purchase, so we are seeing more frequent, smaller purchases. We really haven’t needed to adjust our business at all because we entered the market place with lower prices without jeopardizing quality, which was our mission from conception. The economy changing did not impact our model, but it certainly impacted business as a whole, which is another story.

Is it enough to simply make an antiaging claim, or do the messages about performance/target treatment area have to become more narrowly focused and communicated to consumers? There are many antiaging products for specific areas of the face, for example. Does a product’s retail success depend on it performing a very specific function?

Mantelin: The antiaging claim is not enough, if not supported by perceivable end benefits consumers can understand. Antiaging facial care benefits remain as the primary consumer market driver, with eye products growing in consumer demand due to specific needs in areas like lift and hypo-sensitivity.

Olsen: Consumers are getting smarter, and to claim antiaging without the benefit does not cut it. Consumers have always been hopeful that a brand does what it claims, and people still purchase based on marketing claims, but they won’t buy a second time if the product doesn’t do what it claims. It is important to market your products with as direct a message as you can. The more focused a product is, the better. For example, we have our target specific line, which is specifically targeted to do a function claim, like skin lightening, cellulite reduction or combat under eye wrinkles. These are very targeted and easy for people to understand. We obviously believe this is important from a marketing stand point, but we also believe that a product should be target specific and not try to do everything in one jar. This is not realistic or clinically correct, so for instance, you will never see a day moisturizer with SPF in the Skin by Monica Olsen line. Our Perfection C Day Moisturizing Crème is a daily moisturizer and our SPF is an SPF50, and those should not be in the same bottle because they have specific duties and one doesn’t have anything to do with the other. Many competitors wish to market that way, but we are staying true to the consumer and to ourselves. But with that comes the challenge of having the consumer know who you are because the message is harder to get across, and it is harder to manage from an administrative and inventory/demand standpoint. Ultimately, it becomes a one stop line for the whole family (women, men, baby and mothers) and it becomes a way of life. We are getting there through grass roots activities.

How do an ingredients benefits need to be communicated to today’s consumers, who are becoming both savvier about ingredients/claims and have the choice of so many new and evolving choices, in both products and ingredients?

Mantelin: Marketing innovation based on the latest discoveries in skin and biology science–with exciting new ingredients–will drive the consumer to explore new products in the pursuit of youth. Benefits supported by clinical trials are important, as they support credibility with educated consumers looking for answers in areas like improved skin elasticity, hydration and wrinkle reduction.

How do you communicate the benefits of your products to consumers who are becoming both savvier about ingredients/claims and have the choice of so many new and evolving choices, in both products and ingredients?

Olsen: It is not that much of a challenges to get the consumer to understand. It is harder to get the retailer to understand the difference, because, frankly, they have too much work to do, have too many choices and have a lot of responsibility for the bottom line. Consumers, if they have the choices, will make good decisions. The problem is that they don’t have enough good choices because the buyers are having a hard time getting away from the big power manufactures that don’t make great quality product like Skin by Monica Olsen, but have all the shelf space. Consumers want to know, so the issue is getting to the people with more parking spaces, the spaces are not readily available. We do a lot of demos, and we have bi-lingual product brochures and information sheets for the consumer to understand what they are using. We also have a vast amount of information on our Web site. Word of mouth is working wonders for us, and ultimately the consumer is our judge and best reference.

Has ISP witnessed demand swing one way or another for naturals and synthetics? There seems to be a clear connotation made by consumers that natural is automatically better (safer) than synthetic ingredients. What are the challenges of battling consumer misperception about either type of ingredient?

Mantelin: While the market requests both natural and synthetic ingredients, our challenge is to satisfy both types of consumers with highly efficacious materials. We do so by including both natural and synthetic approaches in our innovation efforts and maintaining an “efficacy first” principle.

How are you rising to meet demand for ever newer, “better” ingredients? Mantelin: Developing ever ‘newer’ ingredients is the first interest of scientists working in the cosmetic industry. Skin is the larger organ of the human body and to transfer the latest outcomes in biologic/dermatologic science to the cosmetic market is a rewarding challenge.

How do you stay abreast on ingredient/technology advances and make decisions about any new ingredients/technologies? What do you first evaluate, an ingredient’s function or how it elevates your brand story/image?

Olsen: We do all of the Skin by Monica Olsen manufacturing in-house and have a great technical staff. Our analytical lab is state of the art, as is our research and development lab. Our first requirement for any ingredient is where it was derived from. Is it a natural chemical or an artificial chemical? Is it available organically or is it derived from animals. These are the first questions, once it has passes our high quality natural standards (certified organic, naturally derived, or a nutraceutical). Secondly, we check for the effectiveness of the ingredient. If it has studies to prove claims we will continue to explore the possibilities. Once that is completed and it passes the claim/function test, then thirdly, we’ll try it in formulation to ensure that it will go into formulation without added synthetic or harmful ingredients. If that is proven, we will proceed to make samples and test the products clinically for results. If we get the expected results we will then go to market and only until then. We make gallons and gallons of product everyday and have the best ingredient minds at our disposal, so we are always being introduced to and reviewing the latest, greatest technology and ingredients. Frankly, packaging options need to catch up to ingredient options. Naturally derived and certified organic ingredients are available, and Skin by Monica Olsen made a decision to only use the best truly natural ingredients and invest valuable resources into making them effective. This is not easy or cheap otherwise everyone would be doing it.

ISP has noted sirtuins as one of the hottest topic in antiaging skin care right now. What should marketers know about sirtuins? What benefits do they offer and how can they help shape a brand story?

Mantelin: ISP pioneered sirtuins in the cosmetic industry a couple of years ago. This breakthrough in antiaging enabled the development of cosmetic products addressing antiaging through an extremely novel approach, “longevity,” a “positive” antiaging claim. [In 2009], ISP is pushing innovation on sirtuins to new heights by launching of Dynachondrine ISR, a new Sirt 3 activator that addresses the cellular energy supply of mitochondria, linking together two fundamental theories of antiaging: longevity (sirt) and anti free-radicals. Dynachondrine ISR is supported by a wide array of targeted studies, including a clinical-based trial.